RME rebrands as Common Chord to reflect expanded mission

This colorful piano sits in front of the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf as part of Common Chord’s OneSound Piano Project. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

The River Music Experience (RME) unveiled a new name and identity – Common Chord – to celebrate its evolution and an expansion of its mission. 

The organization’s board of directors and staff announced the new name Wednesday, Sept. 14, in a news release. With the name change, also effective Wednesday, Common Chord will use the tag line “More Music. More Community.”

According to Tyson Danner, Common Chord’s executive director, the fresh look and evolution are aimed at being more inclusive and will better connect how the organization is focused on amplifying the power of music to build connections and strengthen community.

“Music is a universal language. It is something we all have in common. It has the power to connect and unite us as individuals and as a community,” he said. “Collaboration through music

builds togetherness and enriches the lives of all Quad Citizens. We are dedicated to bringing people together through music – that’s what ‘Common Chord’ communicates.”

Some of the organization’s newer programs highlight its expanded focus on bringing music to the whole community. They include: 

  • OneSound Piano Project: Common Chord has placed pianos in public spaces throughout the region such as at Niabi Zoo, Quad Cities International Airport and Freight House Farmers’ Market. 
  • Music at the Market: In partnership with the Farmers’ Market and the Riverfront Improvement Commission, local musicians perform at the market’s “Common Chord Stage” each weekend. 
  • The Echo: This digital music scene publication, launched in 2021, tells the stories of the QC music scene. Through The Echo, Common Chord promotes all the venues and events in the community, giving the public a point of access to engage with the Quad Cities diverse music industry.
  • InTune Music Mentoring: InTune mentors visit weekly with students in after-school community centers including Project Renewal (Davenport), the Martin Luther King Center (Rock Island), and Boys & Girls Club (Moline and Davenport). 

In 2004, the organization housed in the restored Redstone building in downtown Davenport first opened its doors as the “River Music Experience” – a museum about American roots music. Now nearly 20 years later, leaders say it has grown far larger and more impactful, featuring a host of concerts and educational programs boosting the cultural landscape of the Quad Cities.

“Our programs and mission have grown so much, even through the pandemic,” said Ross Carlson, current board chairman. “Today, we have reached an important step in the maturity of the organization. Our mission is clear, our programs are strong, and we are financially sustainable. We decided it was time our name caught up to who we are today, not what we were 20 years ago.”

Common Chord will continue to feature live music concerts in the Redstone Room and locations throughout the region as part of its programming, with a special focus on providing more

opportunities for local artists and more diverse genres. Educational programs remain a key focus with programs such as RiverCurrents, which teaches elementary students the history of American music; and the Acoustic Music Club, which provides accessible music enrichment for youth and adults in partnership with the Handicapped Development Center, Blackhawk Area Special Education District, and ARC of the Quad Cities.

Join Common Chord for jam session 

Common Chord invites the public to a first-of-its-kind Community Jam Session on Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Davenport Freight House parking lot (4313 W. River Drive).

Musicians can begin setting up at 1 p.m., with music beginning at 2:30 pm.

All people – musicians and non-musicians, all instruments, and all skill levels are welcome to attend the free event.

“This is a true mega-jam session – where everyone plays an important role in the band,” said Common Chord Executive Director Tyson Danner. “From beginners to seasoned road warriors, you’re guaranteed to have a good time and make new friends.”

The Community Jam Session songs will include: “Listen To The Music” – The Doobie Brothers; “Dancing In The Streets” – Martha & the Vandellas; “Hey Ya!” – OutKast; and “Juke Box Hero” – Foreigner.

The event will feature food trucks from the Farmer’s Market and food by Chill Eats. Drinks will be available from the Front Street Tap Room, including Common Chord’s new collaboration with partner Bent River Brewery: “Key Change Blonde.”

Common Chord partners with the Riverfront Improvement Commission and the Freight House

Farmers’ Market. Supporting Sponsors are: Downtown Davenport Partnership and Rexroat Sound. Community Sponsors are: West Music, Russell Construction and Dahl Ford.

For more information for musicians on the jam session, visit www.commonchordqc.org/community-jam-session.

Common Chord announces new Encore Society

At a private event Thursday, Sept. 8, in the Redstone Room, Common Chord celebrated its recent successes and announced the founding of the “Encore Society.”

The leadership giving group is composed of Common Chord’s most dedicated supporters, all of whom have made either multi-year planned gifts or named Common Chord as a beneficiary in their estate plans.

The Encore Society members are: Jeff and Kristi Cordle; Jeff and Reggie Goldstein; Kim Nickels; and Travis and Doris Unterzuber.

To learn how to support Common Chord through the Encore Society or as a member of the Front Row monthly giving program, visit www.commonchordqc.org/support.

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